Autophagy protects against active tuberculosis by suppressing bacterial burden and inflammation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Autophagy is a cell biological pathway affecting immune responses. In vitro, autophagy acts as a cell-autonomous defense against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but its role in vivo is unknown. Here we show that autophagy plays a dual role against tuberculosis: antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. M. tuberculosis infection of Atg5(fl/fl) LysM-Cre(+) mice relative to autophagy-proficient littermates resulted in increased bacillary burden and excessive pulmonary inflammation characterized by neutrophil infiltration and IL-17 response with increased IL-1? levels. Macrophages from uninfected Atg5(fl/fl) LysM-Cre(+) mice displayed a cell-autonomous IL-1? hypersecretion phenotype, whereas T cells showed propensity toward IL-17 polarization during nonspecific activation or upon restimulation with mycobacterial antigens. Thus, autophagy acts in vivo by suppressing both M. tuberculosis growth and damaging inflammation.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012